A hospital staff member has denied pretending to play a violin when she met a victim of botched surgery in a Greymouth supermarket.

Grey Valley mother Jo Partridge, 36, spent seven weeks in the burns unit of Christchurch Hospital after a catastrophic equipment failure left her severely burned during routine gynaecological surgery.

About a week ago, she met a hospital staff member in the aisle of Countdown.

Mrs Partridge said the encounter, which started off well, ended with the staff member playing a mock violin after Mrs Partridge said it was her first outing after her latest surgery.


She complained to the West Coast District Health Board, demanding an apology and disciplinary action.

But in a letter dated yesterday, DHB chief executive David Meates said the staff member denied the accusation.

She explained that she had considered whether to talk to Mrs Partridge in the supermarket, and whether it was appropriate.

"Knowing Mrs Partridge's "very difficult journey" she thought she should, and that would be a "the more caring approach".

She strongly denied making the gesture or noise described.

The staff member was caring and professional, and sincerely apologised if the conversation caused offence, Mr Meates said.

Mr Meates said the staff member's distress at the thought "she might have added to her distress is genuine".

"I hope you will accept her apologies and assurances."


Mr Meates said he would not be taking the matter further.

Mrs Partridge said today her subsequent inquiries found the alleged incident was not caught on the supermarket security camera.

- The Greymouth Star